Friday, September 26, 2008

Lopez Island

See all the pictures of this trip here

Lopez Island: Ahhhh. Driving out to the San Juan Islands ALWAYS has a calming effect on me. once the ferry boat leaves, you feel like you're leaving all your cares behind. Julie and I have spent quite a bit of time on the islands; mainly Orcas Island. For this 4 day/3 night trip we had one goal in mind: rest. We found it.

We stayed at Mackaye Harbor Inn, a perfect place to rest. Not only is the Inn situated right on the beach, but one of the "perks" of staying there is a $35 dollar kayak rental - that's for the whole duration of your stay. Most places on the island charge about $35 per hour for a kayak. I took full advantage, getting out 4 times to tool around the Harbor (Julie with me three of those trips). We saw some amazing things; seals, an otter, amazing birds, small fish, and all kinds of sea life along the clif edges including those bright red jellyfish, sea-stars, and more.

I'm making sound like an active vacation but in truth, we spent a lot of time reading. We purposely left our bikes home, just to help insure that we rested. Our favortie spot to read was iceburg point - here we found a beautiful point to sit and watch the world go by. We were fortunate to see a pod of Orca Whales go by the first time we visited; and on our last night, we watched the sun go down and light up the sky with amazing color.

See all the pictures of this trip here

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hannegan Camp/Peak

See all the pictures of this trip (click here) (including captions).

Julie and I had a chance to go back-packing/camping with Dave & Kathryn; (Julie's brother and our sister-in-law). We hiked in 4 miles to Hannegan Camp, at the base of Ruth Mountain. Day 2 was a hike up to Hannegan Peak in the afternoon, where we spent a good chunk of time. While waiting for the sunset to come, we hiked out on the ridge towards Granite Mountain; then came back to Hannegan Peak for dinner and the sunset/moon-rise.

Highlights and memories of the trip were plentiful;
- Hanging out with good people
- Very cold evenings (no campfires allowed)
- The hike up to H. Peak; the sunset and moonrise were both amazing, along with the "back-lit" red leaves/flowers that literally glowed.
- Hiking down off H. Peak by moonlight (and our headlamps).
- Loved all that freeze-dried food!

Again, see all the pictures of this trip (click here)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Heliotrope Ridge - Amazing.

See all the pictures here:

Went on another hike yesterday, to Heliotrope Ridge. The hike takes you all the way to the edge of the Coleman Glacier, which leads right up to the summit of Baker. It was a cloudy morning and the time we spent at the glacier overlook was foggy and cloudy. The glacier is AMAZING - you are literally right on top of it. There were a bunch of guys practicing there skills in the crevasses; ice axe, crampons, ropes, the whole bit. It looked very unsettling and dangerous...being on the glacier, that is. It was also awe-inspiring; reminded me of Superman's home. However, we decided to backtrack 1/2 a mile and take a turn up the climbers route; this is the route that those who wish to summit Baker take.

The climbers route added another couple of miles, and another 1000' of elevation gain, but as you can see, it was worth it, as the clouds finally gave way to some sunshine. My two companions, Julie, and my sister-in-law Nicki, did great on this hike as they made it up almost all the way. The last little bit got really hairy so I left them below and climbed up to the 1st camp. From what I can tell, there are two camps you can make on your summit bid; this lower camp which is at the 6000' level, and a higher camp much higher up. There were a bunch of guys setting up tents to make there early morning summit bid. I have to confess, there was a big part of my heart that wanted to join them...that may be coming one day.

Before we made our way down, Julie thought it would be fun to shrink me to miniature size. Thankfully, she didn't leave me in that state.

Friday, September 05, 2008

AUS Day 7: Botanic Gardens, Hike

See all the pictures here;
Day 7 was our photo-shoot in the Botanic Gardens,(jump straight to the pictures here). For those who like lots of color and cool plants, and who have a affinity for photographer, it was a dream. Plus, it was drizzling off an on which made the many colorful plants "pop out" even more (I've heard of some professional photographers who carry a squirt bottle with them to simulate rain/dew). The Gardens tour was just me and Julie, Dad and Traci. The highlight was a jade/green plant, a color that is extremely rare in plant life. Besides that, I'll let the pictures do the talking; CLICK HERE!

Following the Garden, David, Traci, Julie and I went on a "hike/walk." It was supposed to be a hike that started on a road and led into a trail that ended at a waterfall. Alas, we never got off the road, never found a trail and never got to a waterfall. Still, it was pretty amazing to get out and "up" high into the rainforest. Didn't get any cool pictures, although I did put a couple up anyways. That evening we were back downtown at the night-market and looking at cool birds.

Two Great Hikes

See all the pictures here;
First, two reminders: 1) you can click on any picture to see it bigger, 2) when you click on any picture it will take you to the album where you can see all the pictures from this album. Or you can just click here to go to the album.

Julie and I spent our labor day weekend up in the mountains. Hike #1 was to Table Mountain. We left Sunday at 3:45 PM with the idea of catching a sunset up on the top of Table Mountain, from which you have an amazing view (and yes, Table Mtn. is the same place I recently built a memorial for my Mom). Problem was, the weather didn't quite cooperate. As the weather forecasters promised, it was unseasonably cold, windy, drizzly and very cloudy. It was fun in a way, being up there in the clouds as they whipped by; but it was cold and the mountains were hidden the whole time we were up there. Still, as we made it back to the car at 8:00, some of the clouds around the parking area revealed a setting was beautiful.

Hike #2 was to Skyline Divide. This hike is 3.5 miles to a beautiful wildflower meadow at 5900 feet. After we got to the meadow we laid out in the sun, er, uh, fog/clouds for awhile; and then decided to continue on to a nearby summit. The trek to the summit was worth it (summit at about 6500 feet) as we got away from all the other hikers, and there were many, and found some peace and quiet on top of a mountain. Mt. Baker made some "peek-a-boo" views through the clouds, fog and mist. Still, as you can see from the pictures, this hike was much more pleasant as the sun did come out a bit to keep us warm.

Some highlights from the hikes: the amazing wildflowers, the sunset on Sunday, and this really cool fossil that Julie found. The fossil appears to be a clam or some kind of shellfish - and yes, this was at about 6000-6100' up. The ranger station confirms that these fossils can be found...I don't know how Julie found it. Amazing. Click on the picture to see it a bit larger.

Also, check out these two: what a difference a day makes, eh? Click here to see the whole album.